The Tigers optioned struggling right-hander Rick Porcello to Triple-A Toledo this morining. It is not yet known who will take his place on the roster. Porcello has been a disappointment this year as he has posted an ERA 6.14. Last year, his ERA was 3.96.
His peripherals have declined across the board. In particular, his rate of strkeouts per nine innings has dropped from an already low 4.69 to 4.22. Most notably, his groundball rate has plummeted from a league leading 54.2% to 47.4%. The reason for the latter result is lack of command of the sinker which was the key to his success last year. He will work on that, as well as probably refining his breaking pitch and change-up in Toledo.
The leading candidate to replace Porcello in the rotation may be Enrique Gonzalez, who has not allowed a run in two relief appearances so far. Gonzalez had a 3.31 ERA and 53/16 strikeout to walk ratio in 11 starts for Toledo this year. He started 18 games (along with 4 relief appearances) for the Diamondbacks in 2006 posting an ERA of 5.67.
Other possibilities to replace Porcello include Alfredo Figaro (4.30 ERA in 12 starts for Toledo) and promising left-hander Andrew Oliver. Oliver, the Tigers second round pick in the 2009 draft, has a 3.61 ERA and 70/25 K/BB ratio in 77 1/3 inning for double-A Erie this year.